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Managing Cultural Change In The Workplace With Toby Mildon

What are the strategies for managing cultural change? How can we measure the impact? And what are the emerging trends that may have an influence? In Episode 121, Toby Mildon, founder & director of Mildon, joins Melinda in an action-oriented discussion on creating organizational culture change. They explore various change management models and strategic frameworks leaders can implement to drive DEI initiatives and measure their impact across teams. They tackle the importance of DEI practitioners taking a human-centered approach to problem-solving and using data to identify and address significant issues in the workplace. They also share insights on emerging DEI trends and the future of diversity, equity, and inclusion in business.

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If you are downsizing your workforce, are you doing that in a fair and equitable way, and are there people in your workforce who might be more at risk? Is there an inequality that you need to be mindful of, whether your biases and your blind spots? There’s all those kinds of discussions that should be heard at that board level. Then, when you come out the other side, the conversation is…, how does a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture help us bounce back harder and faster than other businesses who have not been investing in their culture?
Guest Speaker

Toby Mildon

Founder & Director of Mildon

Toby Mildon, a leading expert in diversity and inclusion with a proven track record of success in helping some of the UK’s largest companies – including the BBC, Deloitte, Sony, and HarperCollins Publishing – improve staff retention, brand innovation, productivity, and performance.

Toby’s lifelong passion for D&I stems from his personal and professional experiences with inequality, and his belief that building a culture of inclusive growth is essential for organizational success. He created the Inclusive Growth Culture Program to help businesses like yours implement real change and avoid superficial diversity initiatives. If your company has more than 250 employees (or is expecting to grow to this size), Toby is the right person to help you drive your business forward and achieve new heights.

Moving beyond superficial diversity initiatives and building a culture of inclusive growth is essential because it addresses the underlying issues of inequality and creates a sustainable framework for continued growth and success. Companies that focus on this approach see better results, both in terms of revenue growth and employee engagement.

Diverse and inclusive workforces contribute to brand innovation and productivity because they bring together different perspectives and experiences, which can lead to more creative solutions and better decision-making. Studies have shown that diverse companies outperform their peers in terms of revenue growth and profitability. Looking to the future, Toby sees D&I becoming increasingly important for business competitiveness. He encourages companies to prepare themselves for these developments by prioritizing D&I and making it an integral part of their organizational strategy. By doing so, companies can become leaders in their industry and attract and retain top talent.

Learn more about the host and creator of Leading With Empathy & Allyship, Melinda Briana Epler.


MELINDA: Welcome to Leading With Empathy & AllyShip. I’m Melinda Briana Epler, Founder and CEO of Empovia, formally Change Catalyst. I’m also the author of How to Be an Ally, and your host for this show. 


What is allyship? Allyship is empathy in action. We learn what people are uniquely experiencing, we show empathy for their experience, and we take action. As a part of that process, we learn and unlearn and relearn. We work to avoid unintentionally harming people with our words and actions. We advocate for people, and we lead the change on our teams, in our organizations, and across our communities. 


In this episode, you’ll learn tangible actionable steps that you can take to lead the change to be a more inclusive leader, no matter what your role is. Want to learn more? Visit Empovia.co to check out more of my work. 


All right, let’s get started. 


Today, our guest is Toby Mildon, who is Founder and Director of Mildon, and author of Inclusive Growth. We’ll be talking about creating culture change, including change management strategies, structures and methodologies to implement those deep changes, and how you measure that impact. We’ll also discuss some trends and look toward the future of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in business. Welcome, Toby.


TOBY: Thanks, Melinda. It’s great to see you.


MELINDA: Yeah, it’s great to have you here. I’m excited about our conversation. So first, Toby, can you just tell us a bit about your own story? Who are you? Where did you grow up? How did you get here where you are now?


TOBY: So I now run my own Diversity and Inclusion consultancy, which I have done for the last three or four years. Prior to setting up my own consultancy, I worked in-house as the Diversity and Inclusion Manager for the BBC, and for Deloitte, which is one of the Big Four accountancy firms. Prior to that, I actually had a background in technology. So I started off as an IT consultant for Accenture, I worked in healthcare technology for an American healthcare company called Cerner Corporation, implementing software into hospitals. Then I ended up at the BBC as a Project Manager, working on tech projects; the news website, our radio website, and TV On Demand, which is called ICA in the UK. I grew up in the West Country, in the UK. So if anyone’s heard of the Glastonbury Music Festival, I grew up about 10 minutes from the Music Festival site. I went to university in the Midlands, but I always wanted to live and work in London since I was a teenager. So I moved to London when I graduated from university.


MELINDA: Awesome. So we’re going to dive into change management a lot in this episode. Can you define for you what that means? What does change management mean, and especially as it comes to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?


TOBY: Yeah. For me, change management really is about having a structured, consistent methodology for getting from A to B. So organizations want to have all sorts of change happening in the organization. It happens in every corner of the business. It could be IT transformation. It could be cultural transformation. It could be people transformation. You might even want to transform your office, or relocate. There’ll be some sort of change that your organization wants to have. But it’s important as an organization to know how you get from A to B, who needs to be involved in that process, what success looks like, and whether you’re getting your return on investment, or whether you’re having the desired impact that you want to have.


MELINDA: Excellent. I, in working on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion over the last decade or so, have realized there are a lot of people that really want to create change in their organizations, that want to create change on their teams, that want to move people to really develop more inclusive cultures and systems and processes. And what is often missing is that change management piece, really understanding what it takes to move people from point A to point B or wherever you want them to go. That people don’t go directly from A to Z, you have to help them along that journey. 


So I was really excited to read in your book that you address change management. Let’s talk about a few frameworks, a few processes or models, around change management. Maybe we’ll start with John Kotter’s model. Because it’s used a lot, and we use it as well at Change Catalyst, and it’s used a lot in creating change across organizations around other change management issues, whether that is implementing a whole new technology shift, or other culture shifts, but less used in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. So can you talk a little bit about it? I love that you wrote about it. Can you talk a little bit about John Kotter’s model?


TOBY: So when I wrote the book, the reason why I wrote a chapter on change was because I was hearing a lot of frustration from people implementing Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, that they weren’t making the desired impact, or they felt like they were spreading themselves too thinly and over committing and under-delivering. I was astounded initially. Because I had come from that technology background, I was used to working in a very structured way, and I was used to having project plans and understanding who my stakeholders were, and having a risks and issues log, and all of those kinds of project management type things. Then when I moved from technology into HR, and I was focusing on Diversity and Inclusion full time, quite a lot of that structure and that methodic way of delivering was missing. It became really apparent to me that that was probably the cause of a lot of that frustration that HR practitioners were experiencing, in implementing Diversity and Inclusion. 


So when I wrote the book, around Diversity and Inclusion, Inclusive Growth, I dedicated a whole chapter on change. As you said, I reference different change models, and I talk about John Kotter’s model quite a lot. Because there’s quite a few models out there, and I make the point in my book that they’ve all got their pros and cons. But as a business leader, you probably need to pick a model that you think works best for you, and stick with it. Then you can overlay Diversity and Inclusion on top of it. So when it comes to John Kotter, he basically says there are three stages to change management. The first stage he talks about is creating a climate of change, or the right climate of change. He says, first of all, you need to create a sense of urgency, you need to build a coalition, and then you need to create your vision. 


We can look at this through the Diversity and Inclusion lens. So we have to create that sense of urgency. Diversity and Inclusion is very rarely seen as a really pressing, urgent, critical matter. There’s always other things that are just going to creep to the top of your to-do list. Especially if you’re a really busy head of HR, Diversity and Inclusion is just one of the things that is probably on your to-do lists. So you have to create that sense of urgency with your senior leadership team. You have to have that senior coalition. Ideally, it’s a coalition that is led by your chief executive, and it involves your most senior leaders in the organization. Then they can create the vision for Diversity and Inclusion in the business. So if you can do those three things, then according to John Kotter, that’s helping to create the right climate of change.


MELINDA: Thank you. In terms of the urgency, I think that’s where a lot of people are challenged when it comes to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. How do you create the urgency around it?


TOBY: Yeah, the most effective way is surfacing data and presenting that back to your senior leadership team. So what we do a lot of is, Diversity and Inclusion surveys amongst staff. Because quite often, data in an organization is missing, or it’s patchy in a lot of situations. So we gather that data, and then we present that back to the senior leadership team. So what we try to do in terms of creating that sense of urgency is trying to surface data and insights that highlight particular risks to the business. So it could be behaviors going on in the business that could lead to, worst case scenario, employee tribunals or grievances. Or we try to surface data about whether people want to stay in the organization, and then what the cost of attrition is if they decide to leave the business. That quite often gets the attention of senior leaders. Because they start to realize, there’s a cohort of people in the business who don’t feel like they belong, who are seriously thinking of leaving as a result, which, with our clients who don’t have huge workforces, can run into millions of pounds, in terms of cost of turnover, cost of attrition. That then helps your head of people build a business case. Because they can go, “Okay, we want to spend X number of hours or X percentage of our budget on Diversity and Inclusion. But that is pennies compared to how much it’s going to cost in terms of attrition in the business.”


MELINDA: Yeah. Then when it comes to building a coalition, often, the business case is not necessarily where you want to go next. It’s the messages around the intrinsic motivations, not the extrinsic or external motivations of the business case, but the internal motivations of developing teams, and teams that are inclusive. and processes that are fair, and so on, to deepen that emotional connection.


TOBY: Well, I try to get my clients to think about what’s in it for me, or what’s in it for us as a business. Because I talk to lots of senior leaders who are very clever people. On a cognitive level, they understand Diversity and Inclusion, but they haven’t quite maybe connected it on an emotional level. But they’ll say to me things like, “Well, I’ve read the McKinsey reports, of which there are three now. I understand the business case for Diversity and Inclusion. But I just can’t see how this relates to my business.” Because reading a McKinsey report doesn’t feel relevant. Yes, it’s nice to see some statistics that gender balance on the board helps with profitability and things like that. But what does it actually mean for your business, the industry that you work in, the culture that’s unique to you? I try to help my clients really identify or connect with that, then we build a strategy from that point. 


MELINDA: Yeah, absolutely. So in addition to Kotter’s model, what else do you think about in terms of models and processes when it comes to creating deep change in organizations?


TOBY: I mean, the John Kotter model is a good way of being able to structure your change. But I think there’s another layer of model that you can use, which is to help you benchmark your diversity and inclusion practices against best practice, or understanding where the gaps lie. Because you want to know where you are now, what great looks like, and then what the gap is, and then how you start to plug that gap. I mean, I created my own model through the book, which I call the Inclusive Growth Framework. I designed that model, partly because when I wrote the book, I sat down, and I listed all the reasons why people working in the field of Diversity and Inclusion were getting frustrated and stressed out. I basically settled on seven themes, and then I came up with seven solutions for each theme, which is detailed in the book. 


So you can use the Inclusive Growth Framework as a model. But there are all sorts of other models out there. For example, there’s the Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Benchmarking tool, which is available for free from their website. That’s a good benchmarking tool. There are lots of organizations around the world that provide other models, a lot of them are quite specific to different groups as well. So in the UK, for example, we’ve got Stonewall; Stonewall has the Workplace Equality Index. Again, that’s quite good. But obviously, it’s very centered around LGBT matters. So you might want to look for something that’s a bit more holistic and can take intersectionality into account as well.


MELINDA: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that you and I have talked about, and that is also in your book, is around that human-centered approach. It comes from technology. It comes from the design thinking models. Can you talk a little bit about that as well?


TOBY: Yeah. So this was one of the other things that I pinched from my technology base, working in user experience and design. That was about creating solutions that are based on the end user. There was a frustration amongst D&I practitioners that I was meeting with, that they felt like they were trying to fix individuals and individuals had to fit in. So they would design a career development program, for example, to try and get more women into senior leadership positions. Some of the material covered in that program was about how women need to change. So they would do workshops on negotiating skills, or how to have a conversation with your manager about flexible working, that kind of thing. Rather than looking at the culture, the systems, or the processes and policies, that were actually getting in people’s way. 


So I thought, hang on a second. In user experience and design, we effectively think about user journeys that people go on, and what are the speed humps and the roadblocks that slow you down or prevent you from completing a particular journey. It’s our job as designers to eliminate those speed humps and roadblocks, so that you have a nice, smooth, seamless journey. So if we took recruitment, for example, if we were to map out that process and try and identify those blockages, you might realize that you’ve got a careers website that doesn’t work with a screen reader, which is the technology that somebody who is blind or has difficulty seeing, uses to use their computer and navigate the Internet. So if they can’t apply for a job because the screen reader doesn’t work on your website properly, then that’s a group of people that you’re barring from applying to work for you. So rather than running a CV workshop for disabled people, which I’ve seen some organizations do, we need to make sure that the technology and the systems are actually accessible.


MELINDA: Absolutely. So how do you set achievable goals? Well, how do you know what to change, and how do you set realistic and achievable goals and targets?


TOBY: So always start with your own people, and identify the barriers that they’re facing. The way that we go about doing that is mainly through surveys and focus groups. But there are lots of ways of surfacing that data. So it might be coming out through your employee engagement survey results, you might have a kind of speak up tool, or a method for staff to escalate problems. So it could be like a whistleblowing hotline or an ethics hotline or something, or your employee assistance program. There’s lots of data out there. So first of all, surface the data, and try to spot the problems, but have a Diversity and Inclusion lens over the top of it. So if, for example, you’re already looking at your succession planning and who’s in your pipeline for promotions, you might not be thinking about diversity. But it’s quite easy to put a diversity filter over the top of that. So you might be able to look at, for example, the speeds that women are progressing through the business compared to men, or whether there’s a glass ceiling. So that’s step one: identify the problems through data.


MELINDA: I think what you said, the kinds of things that you listed, is really important. Often, organizations think before you do any work, that you’ll have to create all new data. But all of the things that you mentioned are things that many organizations already have; engagement surveys, the hotlines and whistleblowers, and also exit interviews, and even performance reviews, you might see some interesting trends there as well. Of course, there are other ways that you can measure progress, but there’s a lot of things that you may already have in your organization.


TOBY: Absolutely. So I think part of that first step is to do a bit of an audit of what data you do have available, and what data you need to get ahold of that you might have to go and commission or go and get somehow. Once you’ve analyzed the data, it’s then worth breaking that down into themes. So that’s what we do. Step two is: break it down into themes. Just go with the flow, go with what the data is telling you. But you want to group it somehow into themes. Then turn those themes into objectives that are SMART. So they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Under each of those objectives, you then want to set sub-goals, so the things that will help you achieve that objective. I always say to my clients, try not to have too many objectives. Between five and seven seems to be the sweet spot. Because if you have too many, it just feels overwhelming, end up just not doing very much because people just get confused and lost.


MELINDA: Spread too thin as well. Yeah, absolutely. It’s harder to communicate when you have too many objectives, too. It’s harder to get the coalition moving.


TOBY: Yeah. Then the step after that is where I love organizations to get to, and in my mind, these are the kind of the organizations that are excelling in this. That is, they take that process that we’ve just covered, but they embed it or integrate it into their existing business somehow. So one of my clients, we went through that exercise together, and we created those sets of Diversity and Inclusion objectives. Then the managing director took them, and then integrated it into their broader business strategy, in their people plan. So it just became business as usual. One of my other clients in the fintech organization, they run their business through Objectives and Key Results, so the OKR system of distance planning, and again, they just merged the diversity objectives into their OKR system.


MELINDA: Excellent. We talked in an early episode, and we’ll link to that talk, but we talked about performance dashboards in one of our earlier episodes. So we’ll share that as well, I think that’s a really important piece of this. I just want to mention, of course, there’s other data that you may want to collect as well, like inclusion surveys. You might want to do a listening campaign, where you have some town halls and focus groups and one-on-ones, and also the data around diversity when it comes to your pipeline of candidates and your hiring process in general. So some other things to think about, too. 


Excellent. What else should we be thinking about when it comes to creating a measurable culture change in organizations?


TOBY: I think after that, it’s really thinking about the implementation. In my experience, there’s a lot of enthusiasm at the beginning of the process. So surfacing that data, having a fairly easy time of getting your senior leadership team together to build that coalition, to start to communicate the vision, and to start to put your plans into place. It’s the implementation of it that’s really hard, just getting things done. Again, there needs to be structure around that as well. Because you’re starting to include more people, things get more complex. It’s easy to, I think, lose control of implementation, if it’s not managed closely enough. That’s when, if you leave it, two or three years down the line, people come back equally frustrated. Because they’re like, “Hang on a minute. Three years ago, you asked us about Diversity and Inclusion. We told you what the problems were. You said you were going to do something about it. But I can’t see any change going on around here.” It just leads to that resentment that the other staff might end up feeling.


MELINDA: Yeah, definitely. Within that is that need for consistent communication, and also, some quick wins to keep people motivated and to keep people feeling like they are achieving success. But yeah, communicating your success, I think is something that a lot of organizations fall on. Then three years later, people say, well, I’m not seeing the results, when actually, there are results, generally. 


TOBY: Communication is really key. Like you say, I think a lot of organizations, they’re quite hard on themselves, and they don’t always stop and pause and take stock of what they have achieved. Like you say, Melinda, they’re not always that good at communicating it to themselves. It was always a bit of a running joke, when I was working at the BBC, but we used to always say that we weren’t very good at communicating. But we were one of the biggest broadcasters in the world. I mean, BBC is clearly a good communicator. But we always said that we could do a better job of communicating to ourselves what was going well.


MELINDA: Yeah, that’s funny. Yeah, absolutely. It’s showing your own success metrics; some people are less comfortable doing that. But it’s very important in terms of that coalition building and continuing that motivation for that coalition to keep championing change. 


Yeah, absolutely. Let’s talk a bit about trends then. You’re measuring progress across multiple organizations that you work with. What trends are you seeing?


TOBY: There’s quite a few things that are coming out. I think there’s a strong theme around mental health and well-being. I think a lot more people are speaking up about it. I mean, the surveys that we do with our clients, there’s definitely a theme of people disclosing or telling us that they’re experiencing mental health challenges on a regular basis, or they feel anxiety quite a lot at work. That seems to be an upward trend. I think another pattern or theme is really around hybrid working. A lot of our clients are thinking about what the new way of working should look like, because they were forced to work remotely, because of the pandemic and the lockdowns they had. Then they realized that people could actually work remotely, and people could actually be trusted to work remotely. I think that was the big thing, actually, that actually people could be trusted. Now, there’s a lot of people in organizations who don’t necessarily want to go back to the office full-time. A lot of my clients also realized that because people could work remotely, they could actually access a workforce that they hadn’t previously thought about. So one of my clients has realized that there’s nothing to stop them employing a salesperson on the other side of the country. Their sales team doesn’t have to be within a five-mile radius of their factory, which is what happened before. But that’s thrown up all sorts of other challenges, because I think leaders and managers are having to think differently. They can’t leave and manage a team like they used to before. They have to change their leadership style, and they have to start using other tools to help them manage teams as well, differently. 


MELINDA: Yeah. I think that’s a key aspect of this, and why I think there is a push-pull still, within organizations, of some people really wanting to go back to the office, because they have developed those leadership skills over so long that have been focused on what do you do with the teams in the office. You do have to change how you lead, you have to change how you develop relationships with people and hold people accountable, and what those working relationships look like on teams, which means that, in the short-term, that may be a little bit challenging for managers and leaders to really shift around the new culture. Any other trends that you’re seeing?


TOBY: Diversity and Inclusion in the round is the trend. A lot more senior leaders are realizing the importance of focusing on the culture, creating an inclusive culture. I think it’s partly driven by certain trends in society. So a few years ago, in the UK, certainly, there was a response to when George Floyd was murdered in the States, and the Black Lives Matter movement. Senior leaders were thinking about how to support staff from an ethnic minority background, and what an anti-racist organization looks like, for instance. Partly, their response, because I think they were feeling pressure to publicly respond as well, on social media. So certain high-profile brands, I think, felt like they had to say something or make a statement around it. Then, obviously, staff in the organization are going, “Okay, it’s great that you’re making this kind of public outwardly facing commitment or statement. But we’re still facing problems internally in the business. So what are you doing about that, senior leader?”


So there’s certainly a trend, and it’s bit of a generalization, but I think it’s something to do with younger people and generational expectations of younger people now entering the workforce. I think being just a lot more comfortable with talking about difference, and societal issues, in general, compared to older people. I can see that. We’ve just done a survey with a client of ours in the hospitality industry, employing about 50,000 people. When we asked about sexuality, there’s a very clear pattern between younger people saying that they are part of the LGBT community, compared to the older people in the workforce. That data in itself shows that younger people are just perhaps a bit more open about talking about sexuality and gender identity and things like that.


MELINDA: Yes, we’re seeing that as well. Then also, in terms of disability, you mentioned people experiencing anxiety and depression. Also, are you seeing trends around neurodiversity as well and people disclosing?


TOBY: Oh yeah, definitely. So with disability, I think there’s a few interesting patterns that I see. First of all, in the UK, it’s estimated that 16% of working age adults have a disability. But when we look at a company’s HR systems, they will usually tell us that the number of people disclosing a disability on their HR management information system could be anywhere between 0.5%, and 5%, if you’re lucky. But when we go in and do a survey, I think it’s partly the way that we go about doing this helps a lot. In some of our clients, we’ve seen a 16% response rate, which is more in line with what the government are estimating in our population. We can only really expect to see an increase in disability, particularly with an aging workforce. Because if people are going to be working longer, they’re probably going to be more prone to getting hearing impairments, visual impairments, cognitive impairments, that just come with age. So there’s that trend. 


Like you say, Melinda, I think there’s definitely an uptick in people who are identifying as neurodivergent. Again, I’ve just done a survey with a client, and we added in a question, because actually, the client was really interested, around neurodiversity. We don’t normally ask this question, but I think we will definitely ask it going forwards. But we asked a question which was, and I’m paraphrasing here, but just like, are you neurodivergent? In other words, have you been diagnosed with autism, or dyspraxia, dyslexia, ADHD, and other such conditions? Or do you suspect that you may be neurodivergent, but you haven’t actually received a formal diagnosis? Or the third option was like, no, I don’t believe I am neurodivergent. There was a huge response to that question, in terms of people saying that they think they might be neurodivergent but don’t have a formal diagnosis. What was then really interesting is, if people said yes, they are neurodivergent, or maybe they’re neurodivergent, we asked some follow-up questions in terms of how does this affect you at work? If you need adjustments implemented, has your employer done it? Have they done it fully, or partially, or not at all? So we got some really rich data just by asking those types of questions.


MELINDA: Yeah, that’s fantastic. It makes sense in all of these, whether it’s neurodiversity, and disclosures around being neurodivergent, disclosures around anxiety and other mental health, and also around LGBTQIA+ identities, that there’s more awareness and understanding. Also, we’re developing a culture where it is becoming easier and safer to say, in some regions of the world, for sure, not in all regions of the world. But that definitely is some progress.


TOBY: I would say even in regions where maybe it’s becoming or is okay to talk openly about sexuality or gender identity or disability, there are still businesses where it’s maybe more safer than others to do that. There will be businesses in the US, and there are certainly businesses in the UK, where people don’t feel safe and secure to talk openly about who they really are. Those are the companies that I think I want to help the most, because they are not getting the best out of their people.


MELINDA: Yeah, absolutely. Are there any specific things that you’re seeing in 2023, in particular? I will say that here in the US, we’re seeing some European clients to, that there’s a contraction in some of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion budgets, because of the change especially in the tech industry, but I’d say it has definitely expanded beyond the tech industry and the finance industry, to other industries as well. As organizations look to the possibility of a recession, get prepared for a recession, I think we see these ups and downs every time there’s some kind of an economic contraction or a potential economic. Are you seeing that, and what else are you seeing?


TOBY: Yeah, I think it’s certainly a risk. Organizations will probably, if they’re going into a downturn, if they’re having to tighten their belts, they are going to cut costs on training and things like that. That normally happens. I actually like to try and get ahead of the curve, and help companies see how investing in Diversity and Inclusion, and culture more broadly, is not something that you want to scrimp and save on. Because it’s only going to harm you in the long-run; it might make sense in the short-term. A couple of years ago, when we had the lockdown, the lockdowns because of the pandemic, I did some webinars about how businesses need to be mindful of Diversity and Inclusion in the decisions they were making at the time. A lot of the things I was talking about has been proven and talked about in the headlines. 


So there were headlines in the UK around, for example, the disproportionate impact of companies letting staff go, on women, for example. For example, that women working from home were still, I suppose, there was this gender imbalance, where it was like, women were holding down full-time jobs and doing homeschooling, because kids weren’t going to school, and running the house, and the impact that that had on people’s mental health and well-being. So there’s a lot of things that businesses going into a recession need to be thinking about. So if you are downsizing your workforce, are you doing that in a fair and equitable way, and are there people in your workforce who might be more at risk? Is there an inequality that you need to be mindful of, whether your biases and your blind spots? There’s all those kinds of discussions that should be had at that board level. Then, when you come out the other side, the conversation is, actually how does a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture help us bounce back harder and faster than other businesses who have not been investing in their culture?


MELINDA: I think that is a really, really important point. Yeah, absolutely. So as we look to the future, where do you think Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work will move? How will it change in the next few years?


TOBY: I would like for it to become a lot more mainstream. I would like it to be a standing agenda item on every board’s board meeting paper, whether you meet as a board once a month, every quarter, I don’t mind. But Diversity and Inclusion and culture needs to be on the board paper. It shouldn’t be something that you just get your head of HR to come and present a paper or a presentation on once a year, and go, “Oh, that was lovely.” Tick the box, and then leave it up to your head of HR to go and do it for the next 12 months. It has to be something that is talked about constantly, and every decision the board is making needs to also be thinking about it through a Diversity and Inclusion or equity lens. So it could be anything. So if you’ve got a discussion at the board about your finances, Diversity and Inclusion should be talked about in terms of that, in terms of your profit and loss. If you’re deciding to do a massive marketing campaign, again, Diversity and Inclusion has to be talked about as part of that marketing campaign. If you’re deciding to sponsor a brand, again, to have a conversation about whether that brand is in alignment with your values. Because if you say that Diversity and Inclusion is important to you, but the brand that you’re sponsoring does things that is not in alignment with Diversity and Inclusion, is that the brand that you want to have your name behind? 


So you can see that it comes into all sorts of discussions around the board table then. I’m really lucky that one of my clients has asked me to basically sit on their board as a strategic advisor for a year. I’ve really loved doing it, because I’m able to just sit in on these board meetings and have these types of discussions with them. It’s amazing how Diversity and Inclusion touches pretty much every agenda item that we talk about every month.


MELINDA: That’s wonderful, fantastic! I have one other question for you, which is, this show is about taking action, what is one action that you would like people to take coming away from this conversation today?


TOBY: So we started off the conversation talking about change management and the need to have structure. So my suggested action is to go away and create a three-point plan. I like three-point plans, three steps that you are going to take for your organization to take Diversity and Inclusion to the next level. Then write that down, because the act of writing it down is a big step in itself. Then just try and socialize that around the business to get that support. So build that coalition, create that sense of urgency, and start to create your vision for a more inclusive workplace.


MELINDA: Fantastic. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Thank you for sharing the frameworks and the things we can think about when it comes to change management and measuring teams and really driving change across organizations, and also thinking about what trends you’re seeing and where we can take Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion next. Appreciate you.


TOBY: Yeah, you’re welcome. Thanks for inviting me.


MELINDA: Yeah. All right, everyone. Please do take action, and we will see you next time. 


Thank you for being part of our community. You’ll find the show notes and a transcript of this episode at ally.cc. There you can also sign up for our weekly newsletter with additional tips. This show is produced by Empovia, a trusted learning and development partner, offering training, coaching, and a new e-learning platform, with on-demand courses focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. You can learn more at Empovia.com. 


Allyship is empathy in action. So what action will you take today?